Financial Checkups: A Tune-Up for Your Money
Drivers know they need an oil change approximately every three months. Did you know that your money needs just as much attention as your motor? Ordinary expenses and extraordinary events can take their toll. Financial checkups help you avoid a breakdown.
Financial checkups are about where you want to go in life. At the beginning of a new journey, a financial checkup will help you set your goals. Once you have your destination in mind, making a plan will plot the course to achieving your goals. When you’re on your way, a financial checkup will point you in the right direction to make sure you arrive at your destination on your pre-set schedule. If you take a wrong turn along the way, then a financial checkup can get you pointed in the right direction again.
No matter if you do a self check or work with your financial professional, your financial check should focus on where you want to go. No one knows your plans as well as you do. Some families dream about walking in the front door of their first home. Other people see themselves walking along a white sandy beach as they celebrate their retirement. Still others look forward to the day when their children will walk across the stage at their college graduation. Your financial plan should be as special as your dreams.
The steps involved in a good financial checkup depend on where you are in your life and where you want to go. Here are some suggestions to begin:
- Inventory - Make a list. Everything you own (assets) – everything you owe (liability) = your net worth.
–Is it what you thought it would be? Is it what you want it to be? Once you know your starting point, move on to the next step.
- A budget analysis will let you know where you’re headed. By looking at your cash flow, you will know where your money goes. If your money isn’t going towards your goals, you won’t make any progress.
- Goal setting helps you look ahead to where you want to go. If you’re in a long-term relationship, don’t forget to talk with your significant other about his or her goals. Next, start thinking about how much money you need for your goals.
–If you want make a big purchase like a vehicle or a home, use our handy calculators which takes several factors into account to point you toward a monetary goal. (Tip: if you are clueless on what rates to plug in to the home-buying formula, contact a real estate agent in your desired area to ask for current average rates as a starting point.)
–It’s a great idea to start saving for a home down payment even before starting the pre-approval process. If you already have a goal, reevaluate what you need to achieve it.
Whether your destination features tropical beaches or three bedrooms, you can make sure you’re headed in the right direction with a financial checkup. Just like oil change, a little bit of financial maintenance will keep you on the road to success.
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John R. Moreau is a product manager for Consumer Loans and Deposits at UMB Financial Corporation. He joined UMB in 2008. Moreau earned a Bachelor of Science from Arizona State University and a Master’s in Economics from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.